Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Mail/Gmail



Mail/Gmail

By mobile OS

Free pre-installed on mobile device

Available for Blackberry, Android, Kindle Fire HD, Windows 8 mobile OS and iOS mobile platforms
Today’s blog may seem like a weak entry, but equally not to mention the communication app  that has quite frankly revolutionized how I and others work would be equally foolish.
This app has significant importance as without its ability to sync to your education provider email the benefits of using Recorder Pro, Notability and Explain Everything as an app to provide timely and constructive good practice feedback would become a bit thin.   Email app provided is a critical app that underpins practicality of other apps for learning.
It should be noted though I currently use a blog, forums and twitter to communicate with the wider educational educator community in UK and internationally.   My preferred methods of communication, with colleagues and students, are email and Blackboard announcements. 
Email and Blackboard are two communication channels that essentially operate within a communication closed shop.   .   It should be noted in my mobile apps for learning blog there are entries highlighting the communication virtues of Facebook and LinkedIn apps, but it is only my first years who have insisted on communicating via Facebook and Graduates who prefer to communicate via LinkedIn   The rest of the University community it is email and Blackboard.   However, all the social media tools I use also stream email notifications of communication on these media.   Therefore I am able to scan read all communications (social media and email) in one app, and note any issues, provide constructive feedback in a timely reply to colleagues and students alike, without the burden of checking multiply apps’ communication streams. 
Users can sync the mail app with their education (staff and students) email account, use the app on the go to read all email communications, file emails, craft new emails, and reply to emails.   It should be noted this academic year at the height I was receiving 200 emails in the first two hours of teaching (all needing a response and action on my part) I still had further four hours of teaching.   Without the ability to access my emails on the go I would not have been able to provide effective timely feedback to everyone seeking communications.   Majority of my emails are read and crafted on my smart devices.
Equally my students have highlighted (see one student quote below) last summer that they are equally interdependent upon the ubiquitous nature of the email app, as it supports their communications for learning and personal development.
“So good to access the email on the go”

Monday, 15 April 2013

Prezi

Prezi

by Prezi
Free to all Prezi Licenses Holders (Education license free to anyone in education) on iPhone/iPad, (there is an unofficial app for $1.96 on android app)
Available for iOS/iOS mobile platforms, unofficial app for android
I have used Prezi on-line via my desktop for over 18 months after being introduced to the cloud based dynamic presentation tool by my students in student presentation.   The dynamic nature of Prezi presentation tool is such that any other presentation tool now appears flat and jaded in comparison.   The impact of seeing you first Prezi presentation it inspires you to use immediately, last year it went;
  • My students used Prezi for an assessment presentation to myself and  industrialists in Nov’12;
  • Few days later I used Prezi to present to across University audience of Pro-VCs, Heads of Department both academic and administration;
  • Head of HR was in attendance, who subsequently recommended to my student to use Prezi which he did few days later to present to University Exec’. 
Feedback from the latter student as to why they now use Prezi and their rationale for using on the Prezi iPad app:
"I believe this [Prezi] is a very useful tool and attracts the end-user quicker than using the standard PowerPoint presentation...The ability to be able to bring movement to slides with relevant ease and next to no time is a plus for the software.   

I have used Prezi for iPad for testing purposes, more curiosity than anything else. I find is useful that you can show the presentation to anyone, anywhere on tablet, phone and desktop."
Prezi enables you to combine different presentation styles for example;
·  table top thinking;
·  story narrative;
·  big picture drilling down;
·  a walkthrough through  the material
·  memory lane
·  sequential with parallel interaction, etc
The latter approach has been used to enable to present an entire module in one Prezi presentation, enabling the academics to show at the top level all the class topics that will be learnt and interaction between the subjects, then each class drill down sequential learning of each subject, but also show at parallel level the inter-relationship of each topic, [1].   Extraordinary approach and good practice use of Prezi as a Technology Education Learning tool (TEL).
Prezi on the iPad, the original app only allowed you to browse your presentation, and was great for presentation rehearsals.   However in the Fall’12, the iPhone/iPad app included edit facilities, and the facility to share your presentation.   The edit facility though is designed to be only for-touching and revising existing Prezi presentations already developed using a networked desktop.   Being able to edit text and add photos to your Prezi presentation on the fly, to make modifications correct minor errors, reduces your stress levels, particularly at conferences where access to desktop may be fraught.   With AV adaptor you can present through projector using Prezi app, as the presentation downloads to your iPad you are no dependent on the network.  
If you are a regular using Prezi and have iPad, then this app is a must.   The app removes/reduces the panic when you are rehearsing and you spot errors in your slides when you are at a conference or away from your desk. 
Reference 
1.      Vodenska, I., Chitkushev, L.  and Burstein, L.  (2012) Ubiquitous Technology Enhanced Learning of complex financial concepts- Pedagogy Improvement in face to face and online teaching environment.  4th International Conference on Computer Supported Education, Porto, Portugal, 16th-18th April 2012

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Socrative

Socrative


by Socrative

Free

Available for Blackberry, Android, Kindle Fire HD, Windows 8 Mobile OS and iOS mobile platforms

Audience response clicker devices have been shown to encourage student interaction in the lecture, aid academic and student understanding what students have grasped, areas that further development, [1] However, clickers need to be either distributed by the academic at start of lecture, [2] or institution needs to invest in sufficient clickers for every student enrolled on the course and students to bring them to every class, [3-4].
However, in January Chrissi Nerantzi introduced Socrative app to education developers in a workshop at Smart Devices for Learning Sheffield Hallam 2013| MELSIG, opening my eyes to a more practical method of introducing clicker response into the classroom. There are two apps one staff and another for students, also there is a web based versions.
  • Staff version enables the academic to create quiz questions you can create Multiple Choice, True/False, and Short Answer questions.
  • As from 21st April 2013 the teacher can upload images (but need to remember students viewing on mobile devices (keep small)) to be used in quiz questions
  • As from 21st April free text answers can be assessed as correct or incorrect against an entered library of possible answers (ideally two or three) that are correct, but note free text is subject to student's spelling ability still.
  • Student version enables the students to respond to the questions and view the answers. Note the students should be encouraged prior to class to download the student version of the app to their device.
To use in class the tutor needs to provide to the room number generated by teacher app for their quiz to the students. The quiz can be used in the same way educationally as best practice use of clickers to enhance the student learning and experience, [5].
Yesterday a colleague used the Socratives at the end of lecture to enable the students to assess their understanding of the module subject over the length of the module. During the session we experimented with using the space race display to encourage students to quickly complete the quiz. Also display the bar graph of student responses.
My observational reflections of the quiz:
  • Students had sufficient devices collectively laptops, phones and tablets lend to other so everyone had access to the quiz.
  • Highlighted weaknesses in student knowledge in one particular area enabled us academics to explain further the need to strength their knowledge in this area.
  • The students also particular liked the bar graph plot of student responses, help them appreciate where all their knowledge collectively was strong and where they had weaknesses they were not alone.
  • The space race encouraged them to respond quickly, but speed may create errors.
When everyone is responding simultaneously, the app response to moving from submitting the answer to the next question slowed, it is a question of WiFi bandwidth capacity.
The students’ reflections of the exercise:
“[class verbal interaction verse Socrative app class quiz] don’t mind getting it wrong on the computer [app]”

“[don’t mind collective class results being shown in class] If you don’t show your answers, how do you know you got it right”
 
During the class reflection of the app the students highlighted they had used the app before earlier in another module, with another academic, their reflections of the app;
"The students like it as they are able to respond anonymously which saves embarrassment. I get feedback regarding how well the class understands the material"
A cheaper and practical class interaction response solution, however each student needs to own tablet, smart mobile or laptop and the institution WiFI in a class room should have sufficient capacity for short high demands.
Reference
[1] Russell, M. (2007). Blended Learning: Enriching the Class Activity with Technology, Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering Education, Coimbra, Portugal, September, 2007 Last accessed 11thApril 2013 at http://icee.usm.edu/icee/conferences/asee2007/papers/985_BLENDED_LEARNING__ENRICHING_THE_CLASS_AC.pdf
[2] Laws, E. M. Motivating Students using In-Class Questions. Proceedings of the International Conference on Engineering Education, Coimbra, Portugal, September, 2007 Last accessed 11thApril 2013 at http://icee2007.dei.uc.pt/proceedings/papers/153.pdf
[3] Murray, P. B., Rossiter, J. A.,& Panoutsos, G. Promoting the use of clickers across a whole engineering faculty: how, why and is it worth it?. Engineering Education 2012 Conference, Coventry, UK, 18-20 September 2012, Last accessed 11th April 2013 at http://cede.lboro.ac.uk/ee2012/papers/ee2012_submission_122_gp.pdf
[4] Jefferies, A., Cubric, M., & Russell, M. (2013). Enhancing learning and teaching using electronic voting systems–The development of a framework for an institutional approach for their introduction. Cutting-edge technologies in higher education, 6, 17-45. Last accessed 11th April 2013 at http://www.emeraldinsight.com/books.htm?chapterid=17077807
[5] Caldwell, J. E. (2007). Clickers in the large classroom: Current research and best-practice tips. CBE-Life Sciences Education, 6(1), 9-20, Last accessed 11th April 2013 at http://w.lifescied.org/content/6/1/9.full.pdf+html


Flipboard


Flipboard

By FlipBoard

Free

Android, and iOS

This is a great resource it pulls together original current news articles from around the world, for example from valid news agencies for example The Guardian, cnet.com, The Irish Times, NBC news, BBC etc.  Also, it will pull in your Twitter, and Facebook feeds.  

The advantages of app are that:

·       You can easily access an article in full by clicking on the article or click to view at original location.

·        It simplifies the process of sharing relevant news with your twitter followers that would be of interest or your colleagues through email.   

·       The app provides access to a wide variety of valid news sources, but also less reliable rumor news sources this tends to be tech’ rumors . 

·        Valid sources cover subjects from business, to sport, to travel to tech & science to apps.

·       You can create your own magazine stored in flipboard cloud (so you can access on your iPad or iPhone, if you own multiply devices), you can add and collate news articles, and tweets that are of interest to you in one location or multiple personal magazine(s) so enabling you to organise and save information.

It is for latter as to why I use the app.

In terms of educational practice as I teach project management of IT systems I am always seeking current news on technology developments, disasters, and successes as a starting point or case study for a lecture discussion on a learning outcome.   This approach I found makes the learning more immediate and relevant for the students.  

The share facility means that one could twitter to the student the links to the sources or collated sources in a magazine, useful for media courses who always collating current materials for current courses/modules, or modern history relevant news articles as they come to light.      I have yet to explore with my students this facility as part a module, though I have used to share with my followers on twitter (which includes some students).   One hopes that adopting such an innovation would help increase their worldly knowledge and broaden their outlook.  

I also think we should encourage the students to use the app to create their own weekly news magazine to develop their worldly literacy.
 

 

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

LinkedIn





LinkedIn

By LinkedIn Corp.


Free App (basic membership is free, however different rates of membership are not free)

Available for Blackberry, Android, Kindle Fire HD, windows 8 mobile OS and iOS mobile platforms

LinkedIn is a social media cloud based professional networking tool, can be accessed from desktop via web browser or mobile app for any of the current smart device platform.   Yes it is professional career networking tool, very popular in the commercial world, so why I am blogging about the tool for education.   Well, quite simply it is the most effective alumina tool for course leaders, one that you can easily manage, administrate and utilise for communication.   One I have used for quite few years.


For start I prefer to use LinkedIn on my iPad than a browser on my desktop, as it is more user friendly.  The app enabled me to search more effectively for graduates from my course from over the last twelve years (I am course leader), and request to connect to them more easily.   There have been a number of benefits of building up a very large personal connection library of very course and institutionally loyal ex-graduates, the experience has been mutually beneficial:


·         I have been able to create course alumni enabling graduates to network with different graduate years, offer one another career opportunities, reconnect with lost friends and see how one another is progressing


·         It has enabled me gain an understanding of their career profiles and employers post graduation, which has been helpful for course marketing to next generation of students.


·         The graduates have been able to easily recruit placement students from myself from existing courses.


·         The graduates have been able to communicate with myself of graduate opportunities, that I have been able to pass onto our final year students.


·         When I needed guest speakers in different areas, a request to my connections meant I had an overwhelming response, in few days I had a semester worth of Guest Speakers.


·         The graduates who are now in a position of influence can share professional employability requirements of future graduates both in terms of technical (sorry my course is in technical area) skills and employability skills.


·         The graduates have been able to provide employer panel feedback on technical aspects of new course design for revalidation, subject areas that are up and coming need to be in the course design.


·         The graduates in position of influence had the opportunity to offer services, software and equipment to the University for our Courses at cost, free or competitive prices.


·         The graduates have offered to be mentors to existing students, powerful learning support methodology for students from low social economic backgrounds, [1] and potential method to develop students for graduate employment, [2]


To para phrase the advice given to my student (all levels) by a recent Guest Graduate Speaker;

“get yourself on LinkedIn, create a professional profile, connect with Anne and connect with them (Guest Speaker), start networking their career.”
Remember your students are graduates of tomorrow and future employers of your graduates.  LinkedIn quite simply is the ideal tool to make this happen to the benefit of the students, the graduates, the employers, the University and the Government statistics.

Anne Nortcliffe LinkedIn Profile: https://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=79044015


I am digitally distinct! Visit onlineIDCalculator.com 


Reference


[1] Layer, G. (2004) Widening participation and employabilityLTSN Generic Centre. Last accessed 9th April 2013 at ttp://www-new1.heacademy.ac.uk/assets/documents/resources/resourcedatabase/id330_Widening_participation_and_employability.rtf

[2] Rizvi, I. A., & Aggarwal, A. (2005). Enhancing Student Employability: Higher Education and Workforce Development. In Proceedings of the 9th Quality in Higher Education Seminar, Birmingham, UK. Last accessed 9th April 2013 athttp://qualityresearchinternational.com/esecttools/eseconferencepapers/aggarwal.doc

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

Mendeley


Mendeley

By Mendeley

Free

Available official app on iOS, unofficial on Android (not provided by Mendeley)

Both apps are designed and aim to provide access to your reference library on Mendeley, both full reference details author, title, publication details and access to e-format of the reference.   App that is welcome addition, as I have been impressed with Mendeley since first day I was introduced to application shown’n’tell Mendeley facility at the British Library in London two summers ago.

In reality you need to have already setup Mendeley on-line at http://www.mendeley.com/.  The iOS app is not as user friendly as desktop version on PC, where you can install a web importer to work with your web browser, digitalizing the importing of your web references into your Mendeley library.   A functionality Diigo has provided for their app.   However, Mendeley does provide the mechanism to store full reference details oppose to publication title and URL address

I have been experimenting with this app for ALT-ocTEL MOOC, setting up a group library to assist registered users in collating the number of references being suggested by delegates on the MOOC.   Particularly as number of the references will be in long term valuable to the MOOC, but are becoming lost in the communication overload emails, tweets, blogs and forum replies.  

My experiences so far have identified that:

·        This app can only be used with regular and reliable internet connection wireless or 3G as you need to login and sync with Mendeley cloud.  

·       The app is essentially web browser interface to online Mendeley, and a poorer relative to the desktop app. 

·         You can use + function to add references, but as the iOS version does not provide web import function, the references have to be manually typed in or cut and pasted, more time consuming than the desktop version, but you can sync your entry back with the Mendeley library in the cloud.  

·         The app is a little flaky; iIf you click on settings button, despite whether you make a change or not to the settings, the user will find they are unable to access any of their references.   My temp’ solution is to logout and log back into the app, not ideal.    

In terms of flexibility, and as tool to assist in collating and organising your references that is full reference details and access to the articles into a  personal library or group library the app achieves these objectives, though not as user-friendly as the desktop app, but it is start.   It will help manage reference overload when you are submerged in the literature review of a project.  An app I think we should be encouraging our students, particularly the final year students to use during the project literature review to ensure dissertations reference sections provide full reference details oppose to bad habit of URLs in Bibliographies.  

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Smart Office


Smart Office 2.1
By Picsel
$9.99/£7.74
Available for Android and iOS mobile platforms
This app I think has gone up in price since I purchased the app last year.   Normally price changes are in the other direction, hey ho.   I purchased this app on the basis of recommendations by my students.   It was worth investing in this app, it provides software office functionality on your tablet and one the few apps that renders MS office documents as you intended them to be viewed when you designed and edited them in MS office applications on a PC.   With other apps I have found you lose graphic and text or definition, size, and location.  Still looses MS specific PowerPoint slide specific graphics if you embed them in slides.
Prior to a presentation, I always uploaded my presentation on to this app on my iPad from my email attachment.   This enables me to rehearse my presentation.   However, on a number on occasions I am grateful I have upload the presentation onto my iPad.   As in the last year at various events the desktop provided has failed for various hardware or network reasons.   I have been able to deftly resolve the issue by whipping out my iPad continue my slide show using Smart Office either connected to the projector or showing my iPad to the audience.   The latter of course only works where you have small audience, but has certainly saved my day.   
All documents can be imported from email attachments and cloud storage Google Doc, Box and DropBox locations.    You can edit cloud based documents on-line, but if you want to work off-line the documents have to be downloaded, but once edited the files cannot be backed up to the cloud storage from the mobile device.  The work around would be to email the file, transfer the file from your email account to a desktop to the cloud storage. 
One advantage of the app is that MS tables are less of issue to edit than in other word processing apps on the iOS platform.   Should be noted you only have basic word processing tools, but for reading and editing office documents on the go it is ideal.   

Saturday, 6 April 2013

MyScript Calculator


MyScript Calculator
By Vision Objects
Free
Available Android OS from 2.1 to 4.1, iOS 6
The app is currently featured on the UK iPhone advert, one I discovered before Christmas.  A handwriting recognition calculator, app that enables the user to handwrite your mathematical expression in the app, the app recognizes your mathematical expression and calculates the result.  The MyScript Calculator is able to process all basic mathematical operations +,-, ÷,×, ±, 1/x, %, √, x!, |X|, to power, exponentials, natural logs, logs, trigonometry and inverse trigonometry, brackets whole or parts of an expressions, and constants π, ℮, φ.   You can erase out part or all of the expression and undo.  
MyScript Calculator can only solve expression s for one unknown variable, so you cannot express multivariable expressions of x and y variables.   However, if you have values for all variables except  one you can use the app to calculate the output of an expression and check that output is realistic for the all the other variable values/settings.   The app enables users to digitalise their working out of mathematical expressions, check their understanding of the mathematics and the output of derivatives.   I have recommended this app to my students, who were impressed when I demonstrated it’s potential.
The app provides users with the visual element of the mathematical calculations, oppose to the black box experience of using an ordinary calculator of punching in numbers, operations and the calculator spewing out an output.   My Script Calculator enables the user to check they have entered the right expression and their understanding of the output derived by the calculator, plus quicker than using conventional calculator.  
In teaching context the app can be projected onto the white board or apple TV.   In class the app can be used to show to learners the whole expression and subsequent computed result and enabling you to explain the sequence of the operations that have occurred.   Visualizing  for the learner the theoretical concepts of the whole approach, instead of the black box operational approach of number crunching in a number calculator, supporting pedagogy approach opposing to hindering. 

Friday, 5 April 2013

Explain Everything

Explain Everything

By Morriscooke and Constructivist Toolkit LLC

$2.99

Available on iPad

Screencasting app for iPad. an app tool personally I have been needing for a while, very aptly named.   You can import images from camera roll, iTunes, and files from Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, webDAV, box.   You can also open email attachment documents in the app.   Each import into a project becomes a new presentation slide.

Linking your iPad to screen projector, you can use this app explain your thoughts on the imported document or image.   Essentially turning your iPad into the iWhiteboard, the app provides users with the functionality that enables you to make your presentation more dynamic, the ability to;

·         move the document around in the slide;

·         point to items in the document using a mimic laser pointer;

·         add arrows, text, hand-drawn images and text/equations;

·         record your screen activity and your voice during the presentation;

·         export the recording as a MP4 file or a Explain Everything project to Camera Roll, iTunes, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, WebDAV, box to email

The latter two functionalities are the pista al resistance as can provide academics the means to provide screencast feedback from an iPad.   As screencast feedback produced on a desktop using Jing by TechSmith has been found by staff and students to be;

·         a medium that provides greater explanation and meaning of the feedback,[1];

·         preferable to written feedback and encourages deep learner engagement in the feedback,[2].  

The reflection of one of my student recipients of the screencast feedback generated using Explain Everything, exported and shared using Google drive;

“it was very helpful and it was a good way to explain what I needed to do, over the internet”

From my perspective I noted that any detailed screencast that is more than a couple minutes can take between to 10-20 minutes for the app to prepare and compress the MP4.   In addition any screencast longer than 4 minutes, the resultant MP4 will exceed 8Mb and will fail to export.   Thus limiting how much feedback one can provide and increasing the time spent in generating the feedback.

Therefore, in my world it will not replace use of Jing (free limited desktop software) or Camtasia (paid version that is comprehensive in features) by TechSmith on my desktop where I can prepare and export more efficiently timely and qualitative screencast feedback or presentations that can be emailed or uploaded to Blackboard for my students.  

However, it is an alternative for when I am away from my desktop.  That is if I have time to prepare and export such feedback to either email or Google drive to be shared with my students.   Explain Everything on the iPad for this activity just does not quite have the flexibility of Tablet PC with Camtasia and MS word with inking functionality, [3], but it is start.   But it is start when I am trying to ensure timely feedback to project students on their dissertations whilst I am away from my desk.  At the end of day rationale for adopting any technology is that it should enable the teacher to provide timely learning and feedback to support student’s determined pace of learning, [4] in case of dissertation draft feedback usually here and right now please.

Reference

[1] Edwards, K., Dujardin, A. F., & Williams, N. (2012). Screencast Feedback for Essays on a Distance Learning MA in Professional Communication. Journal of Academic Writing, 2(1), 95-126. last accessed 3rd April 2013 at http://e-learning.coventry.ac.uk/ojs/index.php/joaw/article/view/62
[2] Hope, S. A. (2011). Making Movies: The Next Big Thing in Feedback?. Bioscience Education, 18, 4. last accessed 3rd April 2013 at http://www.bioscience.heacademy.ac.uk/journal/vol18/beej-18-4.pdf
[3] O’Malley, P. (2012). Screencasting and a Tablet PC–an indispensable technology combination for physical science teaching and feedback in higher and further education. last accessed 3rd April 2013 at http://jisctechdis.ac.uk/assets/Documents/stem-conference/PhysicalSciences/Patrick_OMalley.pdf
[4] Skinner, B. F. (1954)  “Teaching machine and programmed learning”, [online] last presented by B.F. Skinner . From YouTube last accessed 4th April 2013 l at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jTH3ob1IRFo